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Radical Improvements Require Radical Actions: Simulating a High- Maturity Software Organization

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journal contribution
posted on 01.06.1997 by Steven Burke
This report describes the methodology used to create a simulation of a high-maturity software organization and the results of that simulation. The goal of this research was to find the quantitative value of improving from the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) Level 3 to Level 5. The method was to simulate a high-maturity organization using its actual empirical data and then "cut out" the high-maturity elements of the simulation. The resulting change in software size, effort, schedule, and quality would be a more accurate measure of the value of high maturity than working forward with a low- or medium-maturity organization and merely hypothesizing the activities and values of high maturity. The author used computer simulations based on systems thinking and systems dynamics, which reasonably modeled the "soft variables" of the people aspects of an organization (personnel attitudes, learning curve, participation in software process improvement, etc.). The simulation also related the soft variables to the hard variables of a software organization's life-cycle process (software size, effort, schedule, quality, etc.).

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01/06/1997

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